Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Depression - I don't get it

I have/had a friend, Cecilia, who has quite bad depression. There are a number of her friends that she has seriously offended during an episode. Recently I was one of them. Without realizing, I did something to upset her, and despite apologizing, she began to insult me, and wouldn't stop. I was very hurt by this and have not spoken to her since. It has been two months and she has not apologized or tried to speak with me.

In the mean time she has offended other mutual friends of ours, and as a result of this she was not invited to a lunch or beer date here and there, while we awaited an apology. She then announced to our group that if we did not start to include her again she would kill herself.

As a response to this threat, the group decided that despite being very upset with her, they would pretend as if everything was fine and act friendly, so that she didn't go off the rails. I was completely opposed to this plan. I believe that we should treat her like a normal person and await her apology. I believe it feeds her depression when we let it be an excuse for her behavior. It got back to her that I thought this, and now I am the bad guy.

I feel frustrated because it seems to me as if she does not want to get better. I don't know anybody with depression who has not somewhat improved their mental health by taking control of their life as much as possible, getting up every day, going to work, keeping busy - the tenets of CBT (and, as a sufferer of OCD, my natural responses to my own depression). This is why I thought we should await her apology. I always tried to treat her like a person - as if she was capable of reasoning and could be held morally responsible for her actions - because I believed that to do otherwise was to worsen things for her, was to empower her depression. Instead, Cecilia acts as if she is on holiday most of the time, talks about her depression all the time, brings it up whenever she has done something wrong, makes it her defining feature. It is as if she wants it to be an excuse.

She has a close friend who I think is very very rational, but Samy always makes allowances for her, always excuses her behavior because she is depressed. It makes me wonder if perhaps I am wrong to treat her like morally responsible and rational agent; because her depression is so bad that it has actually taken over her brain and she is just an intelligent animal, but not a person. Maybe she doesn't want to get better because her depression is so bad that she actually can't want to get better. In which case I would in fact be completely taking the wrong approach because I am expecting things from her that she is not capable of, eg: acknowledging that she was rude and apologizing.

Depression, I don't get it.

Feb 2011. I spoke to a friend of mine who is a mental health nurse in a mental hospital. She told me that given the display of behaviours she would be suspicious that Cecilia is not suffering true depression, but instead that she has a Cluster B type Personality Disorder.